Questions on ISO 639-3.

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Nov 22 04:53:29 CET 2008

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of John Cowan

> > 1. Is there an oversight with Akan?
> >
> >
> >
> > shows Akan as a Macrolanguage, but has a Denotation that points to
> the
> > Ethnologue, where it is treated as if it were an individual language.
> From what I understand, Ethnologue is updated in much slower cycles
> than
> ISO 639-3, which is updated annually, so such discrepancies are to be
> expected.

That is not the issue in this case, however. This is the result of pre-existing entries in 639-1/-2 that treated Akan, Fanti and Twi as distinct, individual languages, whereas Ethnologue (and presumably most linguistic/sociolinguistic analyses) consider these to be either alternate names or dialect names of a single language.

The best path for me in preparing 639-3 was to posit a macrolanguage that encompassed those three, and the particular option that seemed to make best sense was to treat Akan as the encompassing category with the other two encompassed.

(A purist solution, linguistically, would have been to deem Akan as an individual language and deem the others as dialects, hence out of scope and worthy of deprecation. That seemed a bit drastic, however.)

> > 2. This is more of a request...

But not a request that this list can really do anything about -- unless we want as a body to present that request to the RA (I'd certainly be OK with that).


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